Marc Andreessen, father of the tweetstorm, is taking a ‘break’ from Twitter

It’s not you, Jack, it’s him.

Sure, Marc Andreessen is a well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist and famous entrepreneur.

But to us, he’s the man who rules Twitter with a particular and, well, peculiar communication called the Tweetstorm. Essentially, it’s a rant on some hot-button topic in the form of a series of tweets that can go on and on and on in many parts.

Using the handle @pmarca, Andreessen loves to use his tweets to make points about everything from the economy to the tech bubble to the state of bitcoin to whatever pops into his brain in the wee hours of the night.

Andreessen has been on Twitter since the first day of 2014, and only really took a break when he got into trouble over some ill-considered tweets about India and colonialism earlier this year.

But late last night, he seems to have deleted all his tweets (or maybe archived them, as his firm Andreessen Horowitz sometimes does), and said he was taking a vacay from pontificating in 140-character bites.

Taking a Twitter break!

— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) September 25, 2016

I pinged Andreessen to find out why, and where his tweets went, and will add to this when he gets back to me, if he gets back to me. Until then, you can see some of his greatest hits here.

Kara Swisher #ReCode #TechNews #BizNews #News  

Sony Xperia X Compact now on sale for $499

Sony’s latest small phone is now up for sale directly from Amazon unlocked.

The list price on the Xperia X Compact is a somewhat-steep $499, but if it’s the phone for you and you want it right at launch you can now pull the trigger on one. At $499 the X Compact is a bit more palatable than the $699 Xperia XZ, though it still lands in an awkward pricing bracket — slightly above solid mid-range phones that hit the $399 price point, but below flagships near $600.

More: Our complete Sony Xperia X Compact review

If you aren’t up to speed with what the X Compact offers, let us offer a quick primer. The 4.6-inch little sibling to the Xperia XZ offers a really solid (and undeniably Sony designed) build, and runs on a Snapdragon 650 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, plus an SD card slot. Though it’s smaller than the XZ, it isn’t short on performance or battery life, and even has Sony’s latest 23MP camera setup.

The X Compact sits in an awkward price category, but is a great little phone.

The phone doesn’t quite match other flagships as it’s lacking a fingerprint sensor and waterproofing, but in nearly every respect is the “small flagship” many have been clamoring for. And of course it’s less expensive than Sony’s last couple of high-end phones. If it seems like a phone worth your consideration, be sure to read our full review and then hit up the link below to order.

Amazon was running a $50 off discount for pre-orders of the X Compact, but at the time of writing that offer seems to have disappeared. Keep an eye out if it happens to come back.

See at Amazon

Andrew Martonik #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet  

VoLTE: What it is and why should you use it?

What is VoLTE and why should I care about it?

Here in the U.S., most carriers have rolled out the red carpet for Voice over LTE. If it is available in your area and through your carriers, taking advantage of the upgrade currently depends on your having the right hardware. Once you have everything you need, setting VoLTE up on your phone is very easy and well worth it.

Let’s take a deeper look.

What is VoLTE?

Image courtesy of Ericsson

As the name suggests, Voice over LTE is what happens when your carriers allows you to place a phone call over your LTE connection instead of the more common voice networks. Verizon Wireless, for example, traditionally used 1XRTT for all of your voice calls, relying on LTE for data. This used to be why Verizon phones couldn’t simultaneously use voice and data. AT&T and T-Mobile, which relied on a combination of LTE for data and HSPA+ for calls, would drop down to a 3G signal when talking to someone on the other line. With VoLTE, neither of these scenarios are necessary anymore.

What both network types now have in common thanks to VoLTE is the ability to use more bandwidth to make phone calls with higher quality audio traveling both ways. When you are on a call with someone else who is using VoLTE, you immediately notice the difference in call quality on both ends. You’ll also notice the calls connect faster if you are calling someone near you, and while that’s not a feature worth bragging about it’s a cool thing to test for yourself.

How can I use it VoLTE?

Most major U.S. and Canadian carriers have rolled out VoLTE to some extent, as of September 2016.

Verizon rolled out VoLTE in September 2014, and has since been building it into most new high-end devices from Samsung, LG, and Motorola. Consolidated under its HD Voice brand, VoLTE is rolled into video calling and Wi-Fi Calling, but all customers need to know is that a VoLTE-enabled device will be able to stay on LTE on a phone call, and connect to other cellphones and landlines at much higher qualities. Verizon also recently rolled out VoLTE support to prepaid devices.

AT&T rolled out VoLTE in May 2014, and most new devices support the protocol. Also bundled under its HD Voice brand (coincidence?), AT&T says that the higher-quality codec and reduced background noise that come with such calls are currently limited to other AT&T customers, but that it has worked with Verizon to test interoperability between networks.

T-Mobile rolled out VoLTE in May 2014, and says that over 50% of the calls made on its network use the new standard. Earlier this year, it appended EVS, Enhanced Voice Services, on top of the VoLTE standard, claiming to improve call quality, reliability, and connectivity speed. Most new T-Mobile phones support VoLTE out of the box, and the company has been great about updating its older devices to support it, should the hardware allow.

Sprint and US Cellular are in the testing stages for VoLTE, and have not yet rolled it out to customers. Sprint is in a unique position where it doesn’t need VoLTE, since it has fewer customers than the other big carriers, but a comparable amount of spectrum, making it less essential to refarm the spectrum they currently use for voice calls to the more-efficient VoLTE standard. US Cellular wants to wait until VoLTE is mature enough to be revenue-positive for the company. Neither company has committed to a timeframe for public availability.

In Canada, Rogers, Bell, and Telus have rolled out VoLTE to some customers, though the two former have considerably wider support than Telus, which is limited to Alberta and British Columbia. The good news is that, unlike in the U.S., carrier interoperability was built into the carriers’ plans, meaning that calls made between VoLTE users on Rogers and Bell will sound just as good as those made intra-network.

What else do I need to know?

One of the curious problems associated with VoLTE is accurately measuring usage to ensure that those on tight data budgets aren’t getting ourselves in trouble by taking advantage of higher quality audio.

Today, all carriers count HD Voice/VoLTE calls towards the minutes in one’s monthly bucket, and not data, even though VoLTE uses the same data network as video streaming or browsing the web. But for carriers like Verizon that support video calls under the VoLTE standard, the voice portion of a chat will use minutes, while the video portion will use data. Verizon says that “an average 1-minute video call uses about 6 – 8 MB of data,” beware of that before making that video call — or just use Wi-Fi.

It’s also worth noting that all carriers in this list also offer Wi-Fi calling, which routes regular voice calls through a Wi-Fi network in a seamless way that, in areas of poor cellular coverage, improves call quality and reliability.

While the VoLTE revolution has been slow and steady, it’s good to see most U.S. and Canadian carriers beginning to take the benefits of the new technology more seriously, and ensure the experience is as seamless as possible for users like you.

Russell Holly #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet  

Google Play is still in beta, but it’s good to be back on Chrome Stable

Google Play is finally on the Chrome Stable channel for the Asus Flip and the Acer R11.

Google has made a lot of progress getting Google Play and Android apps working on Chrome. It wasn’t the worst thing to come out of Mountain View when it initially launched, but there were bugs and it lacked a lot of polish, especially when running next to Chrome itself which is dead-simple and very user-friendly. The worst part of the experience for me and many others was using the Chrome Dev channel.

I really like being able to run a handful of apps from Google Play on my Asus Flip. I actually enjoy using a Chromebook for work and play, and the addition of apps like Slack and Hangouts — that are far better than their corresponding Chrome extensions — make me more productive. Each is one less thing I have to use my phone to do. But some of that shine was taken away when the browser would crash, or tabs would reload while I was a few hundred words into a writing groove, or everything would just stop working for a few seconds at a time. That makes things pretty rough, and eventually, I was back to the Stable channel on another Chromebook and left my Flip be a “testing device” which is really what the Dev Channel or Canary are for. Playing with developer software is fun, but I don’t recommend you try to depend on it.

Using developer software can be fun, but I can’t depend on it.

Thankfully, the Chrome Stable update to 53.0.2785.129 for the Asus Flip and the Acer R11 carried the Google Play store along with it. It’s still in beta, and it can still be a little finicky. The Play Store tells me I have no connection more often than it should. Every once in a while when I go to pull up an app from my shelf it has to restart. Annoying, but not show-stopping because everything else is working fine again. And it’s nice to have those few apps available again even if not perfect. My long national nightmare is over. Or something like that.

There are plenty of other Chromebooks that will get access to Google Play “soon.” The Chromebook Pixel (the 2015 version) hasn’t been updated to a Stable channel build with Google Play just yet, but we know it’s coming. Along with plenty of models from HP and Dell and everyone else who makes them. We have no exact timeline, for I’m looking for it to be a few weeks yet so Google and everyone involved can make sure the initial push to more users goes as smoothly as they had hoped before they push things out to any more models — we all know how Google likes to take its time with software rollouts and extended testing. When it happens we’ll let you know.

Here’s where I ask you to write a bunch of words! If you have an R11 or a Flip and didn’t jump to Dev to try Google Play (a longshot, I know) tell us what you think about it now. It’s a definite improvement on the Stable channel, and that might make us think it’s better than it is because we saw how much worse things could be. And if you’ve been using Google Play all along on your Chromebook, let me know that I’m not crazy and it really is a better experience on Stable.

Jerry Hildenbrand #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet  

Uber researching new vertical takeoff ride offering, says product head Jeff Holden

Do you want to fly to work?

In an onstage interview with me today at the Nantucket Conference, Uber products head Jeff Holden said the fast-growing ride sharing company was seriously looking at a new form of transportation to offer its customers: Short-haul flying in cities.

Called VTOL — which stands for vertical takeoff and landing — Holden said that he has been researching the area, “so we can someday offer our customers as many options as possible to move around.” He added that “doing it in a three-dimensional way is an obvious thing to look at.”

Holden said in the interview that such technology could be in use within a decade, which is an aggressive prediction given issues of the complexity of movement in the air above densely populated areas. (Also, you know, the possibility of these VTOL vehicles crashing into each other.)

Holden, who previously worked at Amazon and Groupon, has been deeply involved in Uber’s recent rollout of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, noted that the company accelerated the development of that technology after it was first mentioned by CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick only a few years ago.

VTOL is certainly a step further in ambition, but it’s a pretty slick concept to imagine and the actual development of such vehicles is far along. Simply put, VTOL is an aircraft that can hover, take off and land vertically, which would also describe a helicopter. But, unlike the typical helicopter, these planes would have multiple rotors, could have fixed wings and perhaps eventually would use batteries and be more silent. In time, like cars, such aircraft could be autonomous.

While Uber’s plans are in their infancy, the idea of airports everywhere — Holden talked about landing on top of buildings in cities, reducing commuting time and congestion dramatically — is compelling. Holden imagined many people would use it together, like a way cooler UberPool. Uber has offered helicopter services before, but it was largely a marketing effort, he said.

VTOL is another thing altogether and, thus far, most of the development of vertical takeoff and landing has been done by the military. Below, for example, is a video that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is imagining as part of its VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program that “aims to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and by developing and integrating novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities.

There are a lot of startups in the space and also big companies are aggressively experimenting with VTOL. Aeronautics giant Airbus recently unveiled research on air taxis for cities for both passengers and cargo. As noted in Aviation Week last month: “The single-passenger vehicle is being developed by A3, Airbus’s Silicon Valley outpost, under Project Vahana, launched in February. A team of internal and external developers have agreed on a vehicle design, and the prototype is scheduled to fly at the end of 2017.”

Of course, there are a multitude of regulatory and safety issues to overcome — simple drones are freaking people out, so imagine this thing landing in your neighborhood on a regular basis.

But Holden, who described himself as a geek many times onstage in the “Future of Cities” panel that I moderated, seemed giddy at the idea. “It could change cities and how we work and live,” he said, also underscoring the goal of Uber was to eliminate private car ownership in time.

“VTOL is another way to do that,” said Holden, describing a whole new way to commute quickly and efficiently and decrying increasing congestion such as that between San Francisco and near Oakland (it is awful) that makes it impossible to move around urban areas.

And, just to be clear, none of this is a new idea. In 1493, Leonardo da Vinci conceived of an “aerial screw” (see below) that was much in the range of such vehicles.

Leonardo da Vinci would be a good employee for Uber.

Kara Swisher #ReCode #TechNews #BizNews #News  

Mobile Nations Weekly: Sequels and successors

iPhone 7 takes the world by storm, Forza races onto consoles everywhere, and yet another chat platform says Allo.

If there’s only one iPhone 7 review you read, make it Rene’s at iMore. Diving deep into what makes the new iPhone, both good and bad, it’s everything you need to know about the phone you’re going to start seeing everywhere. Oh, and there’s also a whole new version of tvOS and even an updated and renamed Mac operating system.

The HP Elite x3 is the best Windows phone that Dan’s ever used, but it’s not yet ready. It’s an awkward position. Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best racing games ever, if not the best — and the best Xbox One game. And Gears of War 4, coming in October is shaping up to be one heck of a game, and as an Xbox Play Anywhere title it’ll work on both Xbox One and PC with one purchase.

After a few months of gestation, Google’s anticipated chat app slash smart assistant Allo has launched. It’s Google’s latest attempt at a communications platform, and it’s mostly stripped down the messaging side and seriously ramped up on the artificial intelligence. But if you’re more into the hardware side of things, Google’s next Nexus Pixel phones are coming on October 4. Probably.

If VR’s your thing, Sony’s PlayStation VR appears to be threading the needle between the accessible and affordable options that lack power (Samsung Gear VR) and the super powerful versions that demand an expensive PC to even function (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift). You might have heard of Sony — they’ve been doing the whole console gaming thing for a few years now — so it’s no surprise that PlayStation VR has an impressive list of games lined up for launch.

Which smartphone camera do YOU think is the best?

Android Central — Say Allo to new Pixels

It was a big week in Google land, where we got confirmation that there’s an event happening on October 4 with a big teaser that phones will be launched. Leaks show off some sleek hardware for the supposed Pixel and Pixel XL, and we’re also expecting even more hardware announcements.

Google also launched its much-anticipated chat app Allo, with new group messaging features and integrated Google Assistant intelligence. There’s a lot going on in Allo — mostly good, but some puzzling — and it’s going to take a while before we’re all up to speed on it.

In hardware news, Sony and Moto both unleashed very expensive U.S. unlocked models of their phones. The Xperia XZ and Moto Z are both out, and they’ll each set you back $699.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL: What we expect

Which smartphone camera do YOU think is the best?

AC roundtable: How the Note 7 recall has hurt Samsung’s brand

Sony Xperia X Compact review

Google Allo: Everything you need to know

HTC Desire 10 preview: Flashy outside, ordinary within

Huawei Nova + Nova Plus review: Lean and mean

How to tell if your Galaxy Note 7 is safe to use

Five reasons the LG V20 may be your next phone

CrackBerry — Android and Argon

A bit of an odd week for BlackBerry ahead of their earnings results on Sept. 28. Their, presumably, upcoming Android device better known as Argon made a brief appearance. They announced Caravan Transport Group Inc. has deployed BlackBerry Radar, and one of their rare test devices appeared for sale. On top of that, they forged a new partnership with Zimperium to provide mobile threat protection for Enterprise and Government.

BlackBerry ‘Argon’ likely to be released as the DTEK60

Caravan Transport Group Inc. now using BlackBerry’s end-to-end asset tracking solution, BlackBerry Radar

Rare BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition running Android goes up for sale on Kijiji

BlackBerry and Zimperium partner to provide mobile threat protection for Enterprise and Government

iMore — What kind of week has it been

It’s been a busy seven days at iMore HQ, with new iPhones, new versions of macOS, camera tests, and more. We took a first look at the AirPods, reviewed tvOS and macOS Sierra, and, of course, reviewed the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus — and recommended some must-have iPhone accessories.

We chatted with readers and each other about iOS 10 features, asking what you would change, as well as providing an alternate solution for unlocking your iPhone if you really hate the way it works in iOS 10. And for camera-inclined iOS 10 users, we wrote a guide to shooting RAW on your iPhone.

That’s not the only thing iPhoneography lovers had to look forward to this week, however: We’ve been doing a battery of comparison tests, including zoom tests between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, 4.7-inch iPhone comparisons, and pitted the iPhone 7 Plus’s upcoming Portrait mode against a pro DSLR camera.

We’ve got lots more about iPhone, iOS, macOS, and camera features coming soon — as well as our Apple Watch review next week — so stay tuned for more excitement!

Our favorite macOS Sierra features you may have missed

The iPhone I want versus the iPhone I need

How to use the iPhone 7 Plus’s Portrait mode in the iOS 10.1 beta

VR Heads — All things PlayStation VR

Sony is continuing their incredible PlayStation VR promotion efforts at trade shows and demo stations around the world, and that means lots of new games to play. With mere weeks before the official launch, we took a look back at what we’ve learned from these experiences so far.

Here’s every PlayStation VR game we’ve played so far, ranked!

Magnetique on Gear VR lets you immerse yourself in a comic book

Supercharging Google Cardboard with VRidge

Windows Central — A new Horizon

This week we took a deep dive into the new HP Elite x3, which is slowly hitting markets around the world. Although the phone has some rough edges that are to be patched in an update the phone’s hardware and quality is the best we’ve ever seen.

Gears of War 4 is the long awaited sequel to the gaming franchise due in October. We spent a few days up at The Coalition getting a sneak peek at the campaign and even interviewed studio head, Rod Fergusson.

Speaking of games, Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best racing games we have ever tried and we gave it a perfect rating in our review. You can learn more in our ultimate buyer’s guide.

Finally, the AT&T Microsoft Lumia 950 picked up the long awaited firmware update enabling double-tap to wake and many other features.

Comprehensive list of Cortana voice commands on Windows 10

Dan and Jez discuss Gears of War 4 impressions, gameplay footage and more

Windows 10 Anniversary Update doubles usage in a month while Mobile stalls

Windows Ink: How to use Sketch pad

Derek Kessler #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet  

From the Editor’s Desk: How to launch a smartphone

It’s okay, and entirely expected, to be frustrated by cumbersome phone launches — but some perspective on what’s happening can be helpful.

Launching a smartphone is difficult. Even if you think you understand how difficult it is, it’s far more difficult still. When you’re a small company you have a certain set of problems, usually limited by money and scale of distribution; but if you’re big, you have an exponentially larger customer base to serve and the issues associated with the momentum of a huge company.

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen a range of issues come front and center before consumers. On one hand, we have the Note 7 — it hit the market swiftly with carrier and retailer support, but had a critical battery flaw that required weeks of backtracking and recalls. Then we have Moto and Sony, which both just launched unlocked phones in the U.S. for what most are calling “too high” $699 prices — bonus round of fail is Moto is launching unlocked nearly four months later than its Verizon Droid Editions (which themselves launched over a month after announce). And finally we have the LG V20, which was unveiled three weeks ago now and we’ve yet to see even a peep of pricing, availability or pre-orders from the U.S. carriers — and no indication whatsover that it’s coming to Europe.

When launching a phone, stumbles are almost inevitable.

The point here is that no matter how big or small the company is, the process of creating and launching a phone while hitting every last point to a T is near impossible. And even when you think you’ve really nailed it, something happens in the open market that can torpedo the plans. There are so many moving parts, whether it’s manufacturing, distribution, carrier partnerships, pricing quibbles with the accounting department or a problem with a supplier. Something inevitably has to give, and there are compromises made throughout the process.

We hold these companies to extremely high standards, and rightfully so — they’re asking for a lot of our money, loyalty and patience when launching new products. But if we take a minute to consider just how many balls are up in the air at any given time for a phone launch, it can help us understand what’s happening while we’re frustrated that our next phone costs $700, is launching two months late and is missing a key feature.

Now, a few other thoughts on other things:

On my monrning Alaska Airlines flight, we received a specific announcement from the head flight attendants that Note 7s should be turned off and unplugged for the duration of the flight. Seems like a common refrain, based on my Twitter feed over the past week.

I now have a new Note 7 with a fresh battery and its associated green battery icon. Everything seems normal.

The Note 7 is on the back burner for now, though, as I have an LG V20 to spend more time with (it’s pre-production and not review-ready, but I’m excited nonetheless). It’s bigger than I remember it being; much more imposing than the Note 7.

I’m already loving the wide-angle rear camera on the V20, though. The build dramatically nicer than the LG G5 as well.

Also been using a pair of Samsung Gear IconX earbuds (those totally wireless ones). Russell Holly’s handling our review, but I’ll contribute some thoughts also. They’re a great tech demo, and are clearly positioned for exercise — but they’re pretty bad for daily listening headphones.

I love that when I travel internationally I don’t even have to think about connectivity. T-Mobile and Project Fi have me covered.

This Editor’s Desk is nicely timed, as I’m going to have a little bit of a vacation. Enjoy whatever your local equivalent of a beach and a fruity drink is, and have a great week.

Andrew Martonik #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet  

How to Turn an Old Smartphone Into a Dash Cam for Your Car

There’s no doubt that a dash cam can really come in handy in your car–not just to record meteors and flying cars, but more practical events like collisions and aggressive driving. But instead of buying one, you can just use equipment you already have and a freely available app.

Click Here to Continue Reading

by Matt Klein #HowToGeek  

Amzer Pudding TPU Case for Samsung Galaxy S7

Don’t like the idea of making your Galaxy S7 bulky but want to keep it protected against scratches and such? If so, Amzer’s Pudding TPU case is a perfect choice to add to your phone. The case adds a thin layer of protection and grip to the phone, and you can pick one up for just $3.95 today! #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet